9.677 design of a position in humanities computing

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Wed, 3 Apr 1996 00:49:56 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 677.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Willard McCarty <mccarty@phoenix.princeton.edu> (50)
Subject: design of a position

[2] From: Joseph Wilson <jwilsona@ruf.rice.edu> (32)
Subject: 'Computer and Literary Professional'

From: Willard McCarty <mccarty@phoenix.princeton.edu>
Subject: design of a position

The following three notes are taken from a discussion on H-CLC provoked by a
recent note there, which I re-published as Humanist 9.671 (2). This note, by
Nelson Hilton <nhilton@parallel.park.uga.edu>, is quoted below. The issue is
central to the concerns of Humanist -- it is, in fact, the very issue that
motivated the creation of this seminar almost 9 years ago. The matter begins
with the question, how should institutions respond to the need for expertise
in humanities computing? A better question follows from this: what is
humanities computing, and how might it best be integrated into the curriculum?



*Date: Mon, 1 Apr 96 00:19:24 -0400
*From: Kali Tal <Kali.Tal@yale.edu>

>Colleagues, Some of us at the University of Georgia Department of English
>hope to convince the rest of the desireability of hiring an "academic
>professional" to manage our expanding network and to teach one or two
>courses related to "computer mediated communication" or "computers in
>literary studies". We've been challenged to write a job description for
>such a position. If any readers have experienced a similar hiring and
>have language regarding the position which we could study or adapt, or
>just suggestions or thoughts, I would be grateful for your public or
>private response. I wonder too, what thoughts the list might have about
>such a position generally--is there a market to support it? Is it the
>kind of thing that "traditional" departments of literature should (/will
>/must) be moving toward? Our position would expect an advanced degree in
>literature and probably start at around $38,000.

It seems to me that the point is to integrate humanities computing *into*
the English curriculum, and an "academic professional" who wasn't hired as
a regular tenure-track faculty member in the English Dept. might well feel
marginalized and treated as less than a scholar. Folks with advanced
degrees in literature and specialties in Humanities computing don't
necessarily see themselves as "technical people." It seems like your Dept.
would have to make a decision about whether they want a person to 1)
administrate the network and show faculty and students how to use computers
(essentially a technical, or non-faculty position); or, 2) actually *do*
Humanities computing, and supervise students who wish to explore the
potential of computers in literay studies--as well as teaching courses in
her specialty, like any other faculty member.

Of course traditional departments of literature should be exploring the
potentials of Humanities computing--professors are far behind their students
in this respect. But it seems to me a waste of resources to use a literary
scholar with computer expertise as a network administrator and part-time
teacher... and bound to lead to frustration for all parties concerned.

Kali Tal

Kali Tal
Sixties Project & Viet Nam Generation, Inc.
18 Center Rd., Woodbridge, CT 06525
203/387-6882; fax 203/389-6104
email: kalital@minerva.cis.yale.edu
home page: http://kalital.polisci.yale.edu


*Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 08:53:46 -0600 (CST)
*From: Seth Katz <seth@bradley.bradley.edu>

We, too, have a need for just the kind of person Nelson Hilton describes,

> an "academic
> professional" to manage our expanding network and to teach one or two
> courses related to "computer mediated communication" or "computers in
> literary studies".

Basically, our computing services people are overburdened and
understaffed, and we need to take more direct control of our departmental
computing facilities. I would very much appreciate public discussion of
the issues surrounding such a position.

Seth R. Katz, Assistant Professor seth@bradley.bradley.edu
Department of English Phone: (309) 677-2479
Bradley University Fax: (309) 677-2330
1501 W. Bradley
Peoria, IL 61625


*Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 00:48:13 -0500 (EST)
*From: K. Marie Mennie <kmennie@ccs.carleton.ca>

Regarding the literary academic with a large computer bent:

This _is_ an employee that I'd guess most universities, my own included,
_desperately_ need.

It's also a position that might be easily and cheaply filled by a student,
or a few students.

news: alt.fan.kia-mennie mail: kmm@aaln.org
web: superior.carleton.ca/~kmennie/, and/or aaln.org/ht_lit/
`From ignorance our comfort flows / The only wretched are the wise.'

Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 14:07:53 -0500
From: Joseph Wilson <jwilsona@ruf.rice.edu>
Subject: 'Computer and Literary Professional'

< Some of us at the University of Georgia Department of English
<hope to convince the rest of the desireability of hiring an "academic
<professional" to manage our expanding network and to teach one or two
<courses related to "computer mediated communication" or "computers in
<literary studies".

I have been working with computers a very long time and I don't think one
person can both professionally manage a network and teach such academic
courses. Those are two different worlds, even tho many of us have tried,
with varying success, to combine the two. We at Rice, as of the last few
years, have come into the excellent situation, which I before would never
have believed would happen, of having a full-time, thoroughly competent
computer expert to serve the humanities. What a relief for me to no longer
try to keep up with all the technical details of the ever-expanding world
of computer technology. Hardly a day goes by that I don't have a network
jam or a Netscape crash that my handy expert doesn't readily fix, instead
of my spending hours on it. But don't try to put such skilled technicians
into teaching communications or literary studies; they have their hands
quite full to keep up with the computer technicalities. The ones to teach
such courses are those of us who are in the language-literature business
who have also gained some proficiency with computers, but who are not and
cannot be competent computer technicians. A competent technician would of
course be a splendid associate for such courses.
My major point is that you really need a full-time computer and
network specialist for your department or division; that's what you need to
convince the administration of.

Joseph Wilson, Prof. of German
Dept. of German & Slavic
Rice University
PO Box 1892
Houston,Texas 77251
713-527-8101 ext. 3227; home: 713-686-2733; weekends: 409-242-3745